Starting a new job should be an exciting opportunity, but too often the first day begins with uncertainty and confusion (Where do I park? Who should I ask for when I arrive?) followed by seemingly endless, mind-numbing paperwork. Let’s compare that traditional experience—something most everyone has been through—to what onboarding could be.
First, the standard approach: Top candidates receive, negotiate and accept job offers and then don’t hear from their recruiting or hiring managers for weeks. They have to follow up to find out any details about their first day. When they arrive, they are ushered to a conference room where they spend hours filling out forms, thumbing through policy manuals and watching training videos. Their workstation may not be ready, they’re on their own to figure out lunch, and their manager may be too busy to welcome them until the end of an exhausting day.
Now let’s envision a better start: New employees receive an email from the recruiter within days of accepting job offers, with a warm welcome, an agenda for the first day, an introduction to the organization and maybe even their new team, and links to required documents in paperless format with instructions on how to complete them electronically at their convenience.
When they arrive for their first day, new hires are treated as VIPs, greeted at the front door by their recruiter, manager, and/or new colleagues, who present them with a personalized gift of company swag. After a quick tour, they spend the morning (or day) learning about the organization and have lunch with their supervisors. When their initial orientation is completed, they are guided to meet their team and learn about how their training will proceed.
In short, suggests a new ebook from Kronos, “Improved Best Practices for Onboarding,
What you need to know to create a more effective new-hire strategy in financial services,” employers can design a new-hire strategy to “simplify the process for your HR team while delighting your new hires with a more positive experience.” The goal in re-envisioning onboarding is to enhance retention of new employees and to improve training and coaching so that they are more productive more quickly. The benefits of developing a more effective onboarding process could show up in:
- reduced turnover, with a corresponding decline in recruiting and training costs;
- improved service delivery and related financial results through a faster transition from new hire to trainee to proficient employee; and
- positive buzz from new employees that offers an advantage in a competitive hiring market.
As the Kronos guide sums it up, “a good onboarding plan gives new hires clear direction from the start on their responsibilities and goals, provides solid training to set them up for success early, encourages engagement with their manager and coworkers, and monitors for trends to keep them on the right track.”
‘Gifted’ new employees
Union Bank & Trust, Lincoln, Neb., upgraded its onboarding program with the aim “to make it more of an experience for new employees than just showing up and getting paperwork shoved at them,” HRIS & Benefits Coordinator Katie Davis says.
In fact, a lot of that paperwork is behind them by the time they officially launch their careers with UB&T. In their “preboarding” phase, new staff members have the opportunity on their own time to review and sign required documents online through an automated paperless DocuSign system.
Now when they arrive for their first day, new employees are greeted with a personalized gift bag that includes a UB&T branded pen, tumbler and tee shirt to wear when volunteering in the community for their company. Their first-day orientation includes viewing a short video on the bank’s 100-year history that also introduces its CEO and a PowerPoint presentation reviewing the documents they have signed previously.
Other onboarding enhancements are a new employee checklist for managers to keep everyone on track with all the first-day and first-week introductions, Davis notes. For example, managers line up colleagues to have lunch with their new team member every day for their first week on the job.
Proactive, positive, productive
UB&T’s example demonstrates many of the elements at the core of revamping the onboarding process: automating the paper trail, planning a positive first day and first week for new employees, and lightening the load for HR and hiring managers with a handy checklist for scheduling and implementing each step in welcoming and training new employees—not just for the first day, but for the three to six months required for new hires to develop their skills, competencies and confidence to fully handle their responsibilities and get comfortable in their work environment.
Our new ebook sets out onboarding essentials from the first day (make sure the tour includes pointing out where the rest rooms are!) through the next six months (a final HR check-in to make sure employees are settled in and to seek their feedback on the process).
An additional advantage of establishing a formal onboarding program is that HR and hiring managers can more easily assess the effectiveness of its elements and monitor outcomes. Ongoing evaluation with the aim of fine-tuning the new-hire strategy brings this process full circle. Monitor turnover rates, especially among employees in the first six months. Establish your metrics for proficiency and then measure how long it takes new employees to get there. Set up regular check-ins with the HR team, trainers and managers to ensure completion of onboarding steps and discuss any useful modifications in the process.
Effective onboarding can and should be a positive experience for new employees and their managers and coworkers as their newest colleagues become productive contributors. Perhaps the best evidence that the process is working is that it will be needed less often as those new hires become long-term, impactful members of the team.